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How to avoid fermenting explosions in the tropics

Fermenting in the tropics can be hazardous to say the least. Changing weather patterns, high humidity, dampness and rampant wild bacteria and yeasts can make for some explosive experiences! Trust me, I’ve got the scars to prove it!

But first up, what exactly are fermented foods? Well instead of me trying to wax lyrical about this topic, I’d prefer to go to a reputable source like Katie over at also known as “Wellness Mama”. Katie says:

Fermented foods are foods that have been through a process of lactofermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.

Natural fermentation of foods has also been shown to preserve nutrients in food and break the food down to a more digestible form. This, along with the bevy of probiotics created during the fermentation process, could explain the link between consumption of fermented foods and improved digestion.

Cultures around the world have been eating fermented foods for years, from Sauerkraut in Germany to Kimichi in Korea and everywhere in between. Studies have even shown the link between probiotic rich foods and overall health (PDF). Sadly, with the advances in technology and food preparation, these time-honored traditional foods have been largely lost in our society.

Being committed to using food as medicine, I’m into fermented foods and drinks as they help me manage chronic illness and give me a deep sense of owning my own wellness.

Kefir, kombucha, kvass and ‘kraut are all a part of my daily diet now. I love knowing that their powerful pre and probiotic compositions allow the second brain (the gut) to rebuild and rebalance healthy levels of bacteria and yeast creating a more harmonious environment in my whole body. There is exhaustive information available online about their capacity to repair and replenish good gut health, however there is very little published about the trials and tribulations of fermenting in the tropics.

Through many mistakes and mishaps, I’ve learned what seems to work best in our three main seasons of northern Australia. What works well in the Dry season dramatically changes in the Build Up, and again in the torrential Wet season, and herein lies some of our greatest challenges!

I work with the art and the alchemy of fermenting in the tropics and want to teach you how to learn from my mistakes, support you on your journey to health and vitality, have fun and save some money.

My top tips for avoiding fermented explosions are really focused on Kombucha as it’s the most dangerous and likely ferment to explode and cause damage.

Tip 1

Always burp your second ferment. Once your first ferment is strained and bottled lots of ktea lovers add some extra flavour such as fruit, juice concentrate, herbs and spices. This can also add to the medicinal value as well the amount of carbonation. I like to leave my second ferment for anywhere between 12 – 48 hours. And this is where the Art and the Alchemy come together. Burping literally means to almost unscrew the lid of your 2nd ferment and release some of the gas built up. The Art of this is in the slow movement so as not to let too much gas out but enough to reduce the possibility of exploding. The Alchemy is in tuning in and gauging how many times to do this. General rule of thumb? Practice makes perfect!

Please note: This is a serious step to learn and understand. I’ve had turmeric and jack fruit explode and throw glass 6 feet away from the original location!

Tip 2

Know when to refrigerate your second ferment. This is really important as a few hours in hot and humid conditions can take a 2nd ferment from the perfect combination of flavour and bubbles to a major explosion. If you burp a bottle after 12 hours and it fizzes and froths all over the place, handle with care and put it in the fridge as soon as possible. You might like to keep a small towel handy to wrap and transfer bottles that reach this stage.


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